Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Shortly after his breakdown, General Sherman asks his commander to "vest me in another command"

    William T. Sherman Autograph Letter Signed "W. T. Sherman." Two pages, 7.75" x 9.75", "Hd Qtrs Camp of Instruction Benton Barracks," January 21, 1862, to Major General Henry Halleck and marked "Confidential" at the top of page one. Recently reassigned following his nervous breakdown to a menial command, General Sherman requests that General Halleck consider giving him a more substantial command. He also writes of his "fall," as well as possible Confederate movements. In part:

    "Mr. Ewing seems to think that my sphere of usefulness in this Department is very much restricted by my old association here with Southern Men, and it may be he will endeavor to have me transferred to the East. He & Mrs. Sherman have just gone East. Whilst I wish to spare his feelings, I do not desire to make any controversy whatever, but on the contrary, to do all and everything in my power to maintain harmony in the vast operations now going on from the Atlantic to the Pacific, for the preservation of our National existence; And by all means I prefer to trust you, rather than any other Deptmt Commander.

    I think that the fight on the Cumberland in Ky, occurred between Thomas's Division advancing from Lebanon & that Schoepf's took no part in it. . . . Owing to the character of the Country on the southern side of the stream, the Enemy must disband if pursued closely, as they can carry no supplies with them.

    My impression is that Buell will not cross the Cumberland there, but will move the great bulk of Thomas's and Schoepf's divisions by way of Columbia to form a Sanction with him at Glasgow, & that too very promptly. . . . I began this Short to Send you by telegraph, last night when I learned that Mrs. Sherman had gone to Washington. She knows how deeply I feel the fall I have just sustained - and thinks it owing to the influence my secession friends have over me. - In this she is mistaken. If you think I can be of service here, I am content, but if ever again, you can vest me in another command, then do so. I would not for the world have you think I do not appreciate your motives towards me, in which I know are proper."

    Shortly after the Civil War began, President Lincoln promoted William Sherman to brigadier general in command of the important Department of the Cumberland. The load became too heavy, so General Henry Halleck placed him on leave at the beginning of December 1861. For the next few weeks, Sherman suffered some kind of breakdown, or, as the Cincinnati Commercial wrote on December 11, went "stark mad." He considered suicide.

    Later in December, General Halleck was convinced that Sherman had recovered enough to assign him command of the camp of instruction at Benton Barracks near St. Louis. Sherman, though still miserable, threw himself into his minor chores. Several days after receiving this letter, Halleck, impressed with Sherman's acumen and continued recovery, gave him command of the District of Cairo, headquartered in Kentucky. There, Sherman supported General Ulysses Grant's objective of capturing Fort Donelson in Tennessee. This letter is written and signed in bold ink. Minor separations beginning along folds with a tear along the left margin. The verso contains two tape remnants along the right edge.

    Included is a two-page undated letter passing the Sherman letter on to a family member. "They are reminders of darling Cousin Emma's romance with General Sherman's nephew (your father). Thought you might like to give them to your children."

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2011
    13th-14th Tuesday-Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,092

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2020 May 22 Space Exploration Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    The pre and post sales experience was wonderful and flawless. Heritage has the best in-house operation I have ever seen and their people are not only professional but fun to work with, especially Steve C.

    As for Heritage's online system… Yes the interface is more complex than what we are used to with SAN but what is behind that interface is amazing for sellers and buyers alike. It is real time and for a real serious auction buyer there is nothing better in the auction industry, bar none.
    Ron Cipolla,
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2019 December 14 Historic Flags of World War II Signature Auction - Dallas
    2019 December 14 Historic Flags of World War II Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED $1,022,424